Northern Beaches Council will tackle the growing problem of graffiti.

The decision, taken at the March 2024 meeting of Northern Beaches Council, will see the creation of a ‘graffiti taskforce’ to combat the growing problem of this form of vandalism.

The issue was raised by Liberal Councillor Michael Gencher (main image), who said that while the issue may seem insignificant to some, failure to address it is resulting in a growing cost to the community.

“While graffiti may not be the most severe crime in the Northern Beaches, it poses concerns related to aesthetics, property damage, economic impact, the environment, and community well-being,” said Cr Gencher.

Northern Beaches Councillor Michael Gencher

Cr Gencher’s motion was supported unanimously by other Councillors, also concerned about unsightly vandalism. A number of graffiti reduction strategies have been attempted, from street art projects, to barriers to prevent access to commonly targeted locations such as the Warringah Road and Forest Way intersection.

“Despite Council’s attempts to combat the escalating issue of graffiti vandalism — the persistent issue continues. Council has implemented various initiatives — however, these measures have so far achieved limited success.

“Residents and business owners continue to report frequent incidents of graffiti, indicating that the problem remains a significant concern for the community,” said Cr Gencher.

Fire at Porter Reserve, Newport

“The lack of specific policies addressing graffiti within the Council underscores the urgent need for a cohesive strategy. Revoking obsolete policies is a step in the right direction, but it’s imperative to replace them with comprehensive measures tailored to our current challenges.

“The challenges posed by graffiti, including aesthetic concerns, property damage, economic impact, and community well-being, cannot be understated. It’s not merely a matter of aesthetics; graffiti constitutes vandalism and a criminal act, with far-reaching consequences for our community.

“By implementing preventive measures, fostering community engagement, we can mitigate the impact of graffiti on our community while upholding the values of safety, pride, and well-being. Together, let’s work towards a cleaner, safer, and more vibrant Northern Beaches LGA [Local Government Area],” said Cr Gencher.

Northern Beaches Councillor Michael Gencher

The motion approved by Council reveals that the current graffiti removal contract is costing Council $500k per annum, but it is understood there is cross-subsidy involved from other Council business, and the actual costs of removing graffiti may be as much as $1m.

Current practices only apply to Council property. Removal of graffiti from private premises (image below) or public assets such as bus shelters is up to the discretion of the property owner, leaving unsightly graffiti in view, particularly in town centres.

smoke coming from a building at the corner of Forest Way, Frenchs Forest, and Warringah Road

The successful adoption of Cr Gencher’s motion requires Northern Beaches Council to bring a proposal back to the elected body within six months, with a goal to develop a comprehensive graffiti mitigation strategy and action plan.

Do you have concerns about graffiti? If so, where?

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, Luke Gavahan

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